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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Sacred?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Sacred

Remaining Stuck in the Usual Object Relation with the Divine

We cannot arrive at this ultimate self-realization if we remain stuck in that usual kind of object relation with the divine. And that’s likely to happen if we do not take into consideration one of the major insights of object relations theory, championed by Otto Kernberg. As we normally understand it, an object relation is between you as the subject, and the object, right? You internalize that object relation, and in doing so you become the self that is relating to the object. But Kernberg’s great insight was that the experience doesn’t only consist of that dynamic—it can also be flipped. He saw that an object relation can be experienced from both sides. This means that you can also identify with the object image, so you become the object and project the self onto somebody else and relate to them that way. If we recognize that fully, then that can actually help us deal with the personal relationship to the sacred, because without that other understanding of the object relation, it will always be you, the self, relating to the sacred. Then you can never become the sacred. You can never become essence and being. So Kernberg might not know it, but he might be the corrective. He might have brought in an idea that can help us deal with our religious attitude so that it doesn’t become misguided.

The Danger When We are Taking a Personal Relationship to the Sacred Instead of a More Mystical One

However, at some point it’s better not to use this language of personal relationship, because a subtle confusion can arise from it, and for most people there is a very real danger that the religious attitude can then become misguided. The danger is that when we are taking a personal relationship to the sacred instead of a more mystical one, we can become fixated as a subject relating to another object someplace else. So yes, it may happen naturally and serve a useful purpose that I find I am the soul relating to the divine, but it becomes a problem if I remain stuck in the dynamic of that object relation—then I’m always the soul relating to the divine and the divine always remains somewhere else, whether it’s essence, being, or divine being. But we know from all the spiritual teachings with a mystical perspective that the fulfillment of self-realization is to become essence. I become the divine being and I am true nature, I am the absolute. That is the true liberation.

The Sense in Which You Can Experience a Personal Relationship to Reality

So I feel the word God should only be used when you’re referring to a personal relationship to the sacred. If you’re not, then there’s no need for the word God—saying true nature or reality is enough. But for those who haven’t had the experience, it’s difficult to believe that there is such a thing as a personal relationship to true nature—that you can experience a personal relationship to reality in the sense that you love it, pray to it, and are devoted to it. But the fact that you can have such a relationship doesn’t mean true nature is like a person that rewards or punishes you. And as I said, it’s this reward and punishment thing that never made sense to me at all. I could never believe that reality could be based on something as simplistic, primitive, and pedantic as a God of punishment and rewards.

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